Gelatine, a protein produced from collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, and other animal products, has been a component of food, particularly desserts, since the 1400s.
Gelatine was popularized in the west in the Victorian era with spectacular and complex "jelly moulds". Gelatine was sold in sheets and had to be purified, which was time-consuming. Gelatine desserts were the province of Royalty and the relatively well-to-do. In 1845, a patent for powdered gelatine was obtained by industrialist Peter Cooper, who built the first American steam-powered locomotive, the Tom Thumb. This powdered gelatine was easy to manufacture and easier to use in cooking.
Forty years later the formula was sold to a LeRoy, New York- carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer, Pearle Bixby Wait. He and his wife May added strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon flavouring to the powder and gave the product its present name in 1897. Then in 1899, Jell-O was sold to Orator Woodward, whose Genesee Pure Food Company produced the successful Grain-O health drink. (part of the legal agreement between Woodward and Wait dealt with the similar Jell-O name.)
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